Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

José Luis Lux, a vegetable producer in the community of Chirijuyú in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango Department, and his family lived in extreme poverty. That changed in 1993 when his family led the community to establish an association of agricultural producers, Labradores Mayas (“Mayan Workers”), which sold vegetables to middlemen. With USAID support, the association strengthened production, became certified on international food regulation practices, and systematized administrative functions to comply with international buyer requirements.

USAID is working to get small farmers involved in international markets by helping them maximize production with crops like broccoli and form local cooperatives that give them more leverage. Converting small farms into well-functioning businesses will make the area more dynamic and productive and create better living standards for the residents.

Trafficking in persons is a serious problem in South Quito, Ecuador.  In six local schools, USAID sponsored a program for students ages 5-12 who are at high risk of becoming victims.

What can 77 women do with $5,000? Just ask Miriam Sánchez. This rural mom in Cubinche had few employment opportunities and, as a result, no reliable source of income. She led a group of women in forming a small association that would use their sewing skills to produce and sell clothing. Upon hearing about Miriam and the association, USAID provided financial support to help the group expand its operations.

A USAID program has been training teachers in creative ways to make learning in Spanish easier for non-native speakers. As they learn to read and write in Spanish, they also learn the skills to write in Quichua.

USAID launched a small loans project to encourage Ecuadorian banks and financiers to grant credit to these small entrepreneurs. Making small loans available to individuals with business sense and vision, but without a credit history, has proven to be an effective tool in the fight against poverty.

In the Northern Ecuadorian provinces of Imbabura and Carchi, many rural families make a living from dairy farming. For years, these small farmers, each of whom has no more than 20 cows, could not directly access markets to sell milk at fair prices. Instead, they sold through intermediaries who set the prices, kept a portion of the profi ts, and often failed to pay on time. The hard work of the small producers was not reflected in their incomes, and they could not improve their living conditions.

Colombia continues to be one of the world’s largest producers of coca, a plant used to produce cocaine. USAID, in collaboration with Land O’ Lakes, is helping to root out illicit crop production by helping farmers swap coca plants for dairy cows.

The program helps farmers switch to dairy production through a number of initiatives that include improving pastures, strengthening milk producer associations, and helping those associations build milk collection centers.


Last updated: November 22, 2013